Diversity and decolonisation in the English curriculum
This is definitely high on my priority list at the moment. Glad to hear it! While calls for a more diverse curriculum are not new, events this year have brought the issue back sharply into focus. Let’s not lose this window of opportunity to make a meaningful, lasting change to our English curricula, embedding diversity, not simply paying lip-service to the notion that we should.
I agree wholeheartedly, but feel a little bit swamped by the details. Can you help unpack it for me? The issue, as Melody Triumph from The Black Curriculum highlights, is the general “absence of black narratives in the classroom,” and the fact that when BAME voices are heard, it is too often peripherally, or as victims. As Bennie Kara asks, does your English curriculum include “positive, powerful representation of BAME characters and culture?”
OK, I clearly have work to do. Any suggestions on the practical changes I can make? We do! Start by exploring the texts you study, the books available to children in school, and those on their recommended reading lists, and asking if many of them meet Bennie Kara’s criteria. It may be fewer than you think: in a 2019 study, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) found that only 7% of children’s books published in the UK in 2018 featured BAME characters, and only 4% included a BAME main protagonist.
Wow, OK, I may need to buy some new books. But which ones? Fear not, help is at hand. Take a look at these lists and resources for ideas:
- @BAMEWeTeach on Twitter has created a Google Drive with resources that encourage better racial awareness as well as a reading list that focuses on books that promote BAME voices
- Peters List has a BAME reading list for primary schools
- Puffin Books has lists of 23 books featuring BAME heroes and characters, children’s books with South Asian characters and 19 empowering books with Black characters
- Books for Topics has compiled a list of “biographies, non-fiction, books that open conversations about racism and books that represent BAME main characters”
- BookTrust has a Black Lives Matter book recommendation list and also includes a list of BAME authors in its Represents booklet
- The National Literacy Trust has a series of Black Lives Matter: Book Lists organised under age categories
- Babes About Town explores 50+ books about race in this article
- LoveReading4Kids offers a list of books entitled Diverse Voices
- The Empathy Lab has an empathy book list
You may also like to explore the Black Curriculum which offers a diverse curriculum for use across KS2. It aims to incorporate year-round “black narratives, black stories and black history, whether it’s music history, social history, economic and cultural history” into the curriculum.
In a nutshell… Ensure your English curriculum is relevant to the diverse world we’re living in, and is making a positive contribution to the future.
ADDED APRIL 2021
We explore Ofsted’s subject deep dive and include sample questions for subject leaders.
ADDED JAN 2021
We explore possible options for remote science learning where bubbles and individuals are self-isolating.
ADDED AUG 2020
With a new academic year on the horizon, we explore keeping geography firmly on the timetable and adapting the curriculum and geographical experiences to embrace the ‘new normal’.
ADDED JULY 2020
We summarise the findings and recommendations from the Language Trends 2020 report, and highlight what they mean for primary language teaching.
ADDED MARCH 2020
We explore the pros and pitfalls of creating progression documents for art & design, and include examples from organisations and schools.
ADDED JAN 2020
We explore the implications of the government’s Character Education Framework for PSHE.
We discover the composition gaps in the music curriculum, highlighted by the National Music Educators’ Survey, and explore ways to raise the profile of composing music in the primary curriculum.